PANAMA CITY BEACH, Fla. (WMBB) — When we last spoke with local vacation rental owners like Paula Norris, every new day meant more money lost due to the Governor Ron DeSantis’s executive order suspending rentals throughout the state.
“I’ve lost over ten thousand dollars with the three rentals that I have here,” said Norris just after that order was issued.
Now, some residents are wondering exactly what type of rentals this order applies to, since many hotels and resorts in the area are still taking new reservations.
“My understanding is that hotels are exempt from this,” said Bay County Tourist Development Council Executive Director, Dan Rowe. “This applies to vacation rentals.”
The order, which can be found here, defines vacation rentals as rental houses and condominiums, and does not include hotels, motels, inns and resorts.
Rowe says in terms of reported vacation rentals in the area, only around 10 percent are occupied as of Friday.
“I imagine those rentals were in place before the executive order went into place,” he said.
He added that around this time of year, the rentals are usually around 85 percent occupied.
“[It] clearly demonstrates that most people are playing by the rules,” said Rowe.
We reached out to several hotels and resorts in the area to see how many new reservations they’re receiving every day; we have not yet gotten a response.
However, Rowe believes the numbers say it all.
“From the information that we’re seeing, there are very few people here,” he said. “I think that right now most people are taking the coronavirus very seriously, and are staying at home, sheltering in place.”
He said that anyone who believes that the order is not being followed can report that information through the Department of Business and Professional Regulation. Click here to be directed to their online complaint form.